It’s Thursday, April 9, 2020, and National Chinese Almond Cookie Day—pure cultural appropriation given that the cookie is native to China. It’s also National Winston Churchill Day, but he was neither born nor died on April 9. This date is celebrated because it was on April 9, 1963, that President John F. Kennedy made Churchill an honorary citizen of the U.S. (Churchill was not at the ceremony, but was still alive: he died in 1965.) For those of you in quarantine, be aware that it’s National Gin and Tonic Day.
Further, it’s the Christian holiday of Maundy Thursday. What is “maundy”? Well, it refers to the myth that on the Thursday before Good Friday, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet:
There are two possible sources of the word “maundy.” The main one says it is from the Latin word “mandatum,” which means “commandment.” The word was used in a phrase that Jesus spoke while he washed his disciples’ feet. [Note that Jesus didn’t speak Latin!] On Maundy Thursday, mandatum ceremonies take place in the Catholic Church, as part of Mass or separate from it. During them, a bishop usually washes the feet of twelve people from the community, just as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Other denominations besides the Catholic Church also participate in the washing of the feet.
The second theory on the name “maundy” says that it derives from “maundsor baskets” or “maundy purses.” The king of England would traditionally give these out to the poor before attending mass on the day. They were named as such because the Latin word “mendicare” means to beg. Some dispute this interpretation as a reasoning for the name of the day.
This evening is also the start of Passover, which will end on April 16 and thus overlap with Easter.
Today’s Google Doodle continues the two-week thank you to coronavirus helpers. Today’s Doodle thanks those who work in sanitation; click on the screenshot to see the links
News of the Day: Dreadful, as usual, but people are beginning to see glimmers of hope. As a pessimist, I want more evidence. In the meantime, the death toll from the coronavirus in the U.S. has risen to 14,802 in the U.S. and 88,538 throughout the world. New unemployment figures will be released today, and they will show millions more Americans out of work; this will only grow since just this week Florida and Texas, with 15% of the nation’s payroll, decided to close nonessential businesses. Troubles as numerous as poppy seeds. . .
Stuff that happened on April 9 includes:
- 1585 – The expedition organised by Sir Walter Raleigh departs England for Roanoke Island (now in North Carolina) to establish the Roanoke Colony.
- 1784 – The Treaty of Paris, ratified by the United States Congress on January 14, 1784, is ratified by King George III of the Kingdom of Great Britain, ending the American Revolutionary War. Copies of the ratified documents are exchanged on May 12, 1784.
- 1860 – On his phonautograph machine, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville makes the oldest known recording of an audible human voice.
“The recording was a ten-second snippet of a singer, probably a daughter of the inventor performing the French folk song ‘Au Clair de la Lune’. This phonautograph recording is now the earliest known recording of a human voice and the earliest known recording of music in existence, predating, by twenty-eight years, the longest surviving Edison phonographic recording of a Handel chorus, made in 1888” (Wikipedia article on Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, accessed 04-18-2009).
And I present you that recording as a gift!
- 1865 – American Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the war.
- 1939 – African-American singer Marian Anderson gives a concert at the Lincoln Memorial after being denied the use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
This was a scandal to all right-thinking people.
Anderson was refused by the DAR because they were all white and didn’t want a black person integrating Constitution Hall (note the irony of that name). Read more about this infamous event here.
Upon hearing what the DAR did, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the organization and arranged for the Lincoln Memorial concert. Here’s a six-minute PBS report (with scenes) on that concert, its antecedents, and its aftermath, an antecedent to Martin Luther King’s famous speech at the site.
- 1945 – Execution of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, anti-Nazi dissident and spy, by the Nazi regime.
If ever I could have a theologian as a hero, it was Bonhoeffer, who opposed and public defied Hitler, and was hanged for it—only two weeks before the Allies liberated the Flossenbürg concentration camp where he was held. Here’s an 8½-minute documentary about Bonhoeffer’s resistance to Hitler:
- 1947 – The Journey of Reconciliation, the first interracial Freedom Ride begins through the upper South in violation of Jim Crow laws. The riders wanted enforcement of the United States Supreme Court’s 1946 Irene Morgan decision that banned racial segregation in interstate travel.
- 1965 – Astrodome opens. First indoor baseball game is played.
- 1992 – A U.S. Federal Court finds former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega guilty of drug and racketeering charges. He is sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Notables born on this day include:
- 1821 – Charles Baudelaire, French poet and critic (d. 1867)
- 1872 – Léon Blum, French lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of France (d. 1950)
- 1898 – Paul Robeson, American singer, actor, and activist (d. 1976)
- 1925 – Art Kane, American photographer (d. 1995)
Kane specialized in photos of fashion and rock musicians. Here’s one of an uncooperative Bob Dylan, whom he cornered on a Los Angeles rooftop:
- 1926 – Hugh Hefner, American publisher, founded Playboy Enterprises (d. 2017)
- 1928 – Tom Lehrer, American musician, singer, and mathematician.
Here’s a tweet found by Matthew about Lehrer’s birthday:
— Petroc Trelawny (@PetrocTrelawny) April 9, 2020
- 1932 – Jim Fowler, American zoologist and television host
- 1965 – Paulina Porizkova, Czech-born Swedish-American model and actress
- 1990 – Kristen Stewart, American actress
- 2000 – Jackie Evancho, American singer
Those who decamped from life on April 9 include:
- 1553 – François Rabelais, French monk and scholar (b. 1494)
- 1626 – Francis Bacon, English jurist and politician, Attorney General for England and Wales (b. 1561)
- 1926 – Zip the Pinhead, American freak show performer (b. 1857)
- 1945 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian (b. 1906)
- 1961 – Zog I of Albania (b. 1895)
- 1976 – Phil Ochs, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (b. 1940)
Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, as Malgorzata explains, “Hili is anxious about the pandemic. There may be shortage of cat food!”
Hili: Flowers do not worry about anything.A: And you?Hili: I’m enjoying the spring but there are reasons for anxiety.
Hili: Kwiaty niczym się nie przejmują.
Ja: A ty?
Hili: Cieszę się wiosną, ale są powody do niepokoju.
Via Muffy, a cartoon by Pat Bagley in The Salt Lake Tribune. Title: “Playing Doctor”:
From Cats in Art:
And a social-distancing cat from reader Lawrence:
From Titania. Give me a break: the virus discriminates? No, there are presumably racial differences, based on culture and oppression, that influence susceptibility to infection. I didn’t even realize that people would use the pandemic to leverage identity politics—and at a time when we should be pulling together as humans. If you want to read Hirsch’s article, it’s here.
All this time we’ve been wasting looking for a "vaccine", it turns out we should have been campaigning against the coronavirus for its discriminatory and racist infection practices. #CoronavirusIsRacist #CancelCOVID19 #NotMyVirus pic.twitter.com/rNqJ1XrUJV
— Titania McGrath (@TitaniaMcGrath) April 8, 2020
From Barry. This is certainly dubbed, but it’s still funny. And it’s not a badger!
This is a very very bad badger pic.twitter.com/d6UsSHhJmW
— Pastor Alex (@PastorAlexLove) April 7, 2020
From Muffy. Capybaras are so phlegmatic, even letting themselves be groomed by mallards:
Where once I was dishevelled, now I am shevelled, thanks to ducks. pic.twitter.com/rgPKcR0PJv
— Dick King-Smith HQ (@DickKingSmith) April 7, 2020
Two tweets from Heather Hastie via Ann German. First, Twitter needs to fix it’s autocorrect.
What ever happened to Neil Diamond? Well, he’s in lockdown with the rest of us, but still making music. Here, “Sweet Caroline” gets some new lyrics:
Stay safe out there! “Hands… washing hands..” 🎶 pic.twitter.com/QaRB1qZshp
— Neil Diamond (@NeilDiamond) March 22, 2020
Three tweets from Matthew. Spot the frog!
A Queen Meme: Going where no Queen has gone before. There are other versions of her clothes at the link.
I am keen on the greenscreen Queen.https://t.co/aKm2Klek3o
— Professor John R. Hutchinson (@JohnRHutchinson) April 8, 2020
This truly is RAD! What are the chances?